A Celebration Dinner Fails to Impress
My parents flew in from Arizona for my graduation from Stern last week. My brother already lives in the city, so he was able to leave work early to join. The graduation took place at Radio City Music Hall. Approximately 1,200 people graduated at my ceremony (~800 part-time and ~400 full-time students) - so over 5,000 attended when you factor in family members. INSANITY
When organizing a celebratory dinner, I keep in mind all attendees: specifically food preferences and desired atmosphere (quiet, hip & trendy or well-lit). My entire family enjoys Italian food, so I put a lot of effort into finding a place that would make everyone happy...or so I thought! I chose Trattoria il Mulino (http://www.trattoriailmulino.com/trattoria-il-mulino-new-york-menu/) thinking it would please everyone and it ending up disappointing everyone instead. Let me take you through the meal so you understand.
Several days before our reservation (through Open Table), I called the restaurant directly. I requested that we be given a seat that would be easier for a handicapped person to sit in and be in a quieter part of the restaurant. I also mentioned that it was a graduation celebration meal (I also put that in my notes on my reservation).
When my mom and I arrived (ahead of my brother and dad, who had to take a cab), I spoke to the host. There were NO NOTES (!!!!) with my reservation. When I asked about the seating, they had no idea what I was speaking about. I asked if we could sit in the booths (easier for my dad to sit in than the chairs there), the host shared that a sporting event would be shown via projectors. I was very disappointed at this point - knowing that my parents would pay several hundred dollars for a meal at a place that 1. had no idea what was going on and 2. was showing a sporting event. I thought this was a much nicer restaurant. At that point, I almost left, which I should of, but I didn't want to make it more difficult for my dad to go to a new location. Coulda, woulda shoulda - next time I need to trust my gut!
Once we were seated, we got the complimentary set-up of roasted eggplant (served cold), fresh baked bread and sliced salami.
I enjoyed these while I was eating them. Once I got home, I didn't feel that well - potentially from the food. It could have been from the eggplant - eek.
I would think this "more affordable" sister restaurant of Il Mulino would have food that far exceeds its cocktails. At least my cocktails kept me distracted from my disappointing experience. I loved the drinks I got. The first one (couldn't find names of cocktails on the website), featured gin and grapefruit juice.
I ordered one of the special appetizers - the soft shelled crab. It was far better than my entrée and served with garlic spinach. My dad got the Ricotta Meatballs appetizer.
If anything, this restaurant has great décor and the lighting is really nice - I love the fixtures on the ceiling.
My mom ordered the Veal Picatta - I tried a piece and it was nice. When I made the reservation, I didn't realize this was the type of restaurant that didn't offer sides with the entrée. So, now a $30 entrée becomes $40 if you add a $10 side (spinach, pasta, etc.). My mom opted not to get any sides.
My dad ordered the Gnocchi with Bolognese sauce. He loves this dish and didn't enjoy it. I got the impression that the gnocchi he gets in blister-packs from Costco is better.
I didn't take a photo of my brother's swordfish. The portion was embarrassing - especially for $38. It looked like they took a thick filet and cut it in half horizontally. I've never seen swordfish served that thin - maybe on sushi!
I ordered the Spaghettini with Meatballs. This place is famous for its Ricotta Meatballs. My dad commented that he felt like they came from some meatball factory since they were so perfectly round - they seemed more like they were made from a machine and not a person. I do enjoy the rougher, homemade touch.
I ordered one final cocktail - a Cosmopolitan. It was delicious.
I am generally very happy with restaurants that I research and visit. I was so disappointed with this one! I'd also note that the service was subpar - it was hard to get our server's attention when she was busy texting all evening off to the side. What was supposed to be a delightful meal to celebrate my graduation ended up being a real bummer. I'd recommend visiting other Italian spots, like Malatesta Trattoria or Pepe Giallo, the food is much better and much more affordable!